PARIS — While the future use of the Mildred M. Fox School is up in the air, the current tenant, Oxford Hills Christian Academy, might be able to remain in the building.

On Monday night, Selectmen entered executive session to discuss a possible contract with academy Administrator Steve Holbrook.

Town Manager Amy Bernard said Tuesday that no action was taken.

“We don’t negotiate contracts in public,” Bernard said earlier Monday when asked about the agenda item.

The town wanted to reacquire the school, at 10 East Main St., ever since School Administrative Unit 17 offices moved into the Western Maine Community College building on Main Street this summer, instead of the Fox School as originally planned.

Since the town owned the school in the 1960s before SAD 17 acquired it, Paris gets first dibs on it, Superintendent Rick Colpitts previously said. Selectmen officially decided in December that the town would accept the Fox School back from SAD 17 once its board of directors moved on it.

Ideas for the building include turning it into an arts center, as recommended by the town’s Strategic Plan, transforming it into a seniors and/or community center, creating a business incubator, transforming it into apartments and now Paris Norway Community Television wants to move in.

“We have a lot of offers on the school right now,” Bernard said before Monday’s meeting. “I don’t know what the board is going to do.”

There are 54 students in kindergarten through grade 12 enrolled in the academy. The Fox School has served as the Oxford Hills Christian Academy’s home since 2008. Last summer, SAD 17 and the academy signed a three-year contract for use of the school. There’s a 90-day clause that allows either party to back out of the agreement, Colpitts previously said. The academy is looking for a new home since the future of the building in uncertain, but it would take time to raise the funds necessary for the move, Holbrook said last month.

The SAD 17 Board of Directors gave Colpitts permission to get rid of the 1882, three-story brick building in April. But the directors followed the advice of the school district’s attorney to charge the town for the two other lots associated with school — which contain the bus loop next to the school and parking lot across from the First Congregational Church of South Paris — since taxpayers from the district’s other seven towns chipped in when the lots where purchased more than five decades ago.

The lots have a combined assessment of $107,000, Bernard said Tuesday. At Monday’s meeting, resident Rick Little brought up the assessment of the two additional lots, which he said he didn’t think was a fair market value.

Selectman Janet Jamison noted that though there weren’t any buildings on the lots, the assessment jumped.

Bernard explained that they’re commercial lots and the new assessment was based on the last three commercial lots sold in that area. They include the site of the former Shaner’s Restaurant, where Family Dollar is now located, the land on Main Street, where the new ice cream shop Inside Scoop is located and the house next to McLaughlin Garden, also on Main Street.

“All of them went for more than $100,000. Shaner’s went for (approximately) $300,000,” Bernard said Tuesday. “It really skews the fair market value of that lot.”

At Monday’s selectmen meeting, Bernard advised the board to wait to finalize the town meeting warrant article that asks voters to use the undesignated fund balance to purchase the lots associated with the school until its next meeting. An appraisal conducted by a professional company hired by SAD 17 will be complete by Tuesday, May 19. 

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